When you think of a festival, the mind really only goes in two directions. You're either picturing some artsy-fartsy films you've never heard of, or antiques and taco trucks. And, while yes, both of those situations can hold equally delicious and infuriating results, they are also only a small part of what the word really means. A festival isn't simply an event tasked will curbing that crave to our appetite, cultural or kitchen wise. A festival is a group, a community, even a whole city, coming together to supply its residents, its neighbors, with everything the creative inhabitants that make it up have to offer.
This year, Denton's own Thin Line Festival was no exception. The music, the movies, the memorable characters, on screen and off, were all that one could wish for. And, as is so often the case in wonderful endeavors, some of the greatest treats are found by peeking through the cracks. The various workshops held throughout the festival present a prime example of this notion, with none better than the Denton Steps Together workshop, lead by TWU instructor Rosemary Candelario. The workshop was put together in an attempt to pair with the short film One Million Steps (which was also shown at the festival and, you know, also written about here) that feeling of pure melodious harmony that only dancing can produce.
The event is a small, intimate affair, with a charming, colorful collection of men and women of all ages, showing up to give their mind a break and let their bodies think. Ms. Candelario has the participants start the afternoon with a quick introduction, of both name and characteristic gesture about what the town of Denton has come to mean to each. This city has a hold on all who dwell in it, whether those have been here a week, those who arrived in time to be greeted by storms and tornadoes, or those who are a part of its very foundation going generations back.
Next is the process of loosening up the body to ready for dance, stretching limbs but relaxing the soul. Not stretches found on some infomercial yoga mat or heard counted out before a JV football game, but swaying, skipping, bouncing and laughing, stretching to the very core in an attempt to ready yourself for the joyful embrace of music. For that's really all that dancing is; not just simple steps and beats, but the connection between the music and our bodies, the tool that allows for that melodious conversation, like the yarn stretched between two cups for children to speak through.
Then, we begin to create a dance. For anyone who's not a professional choreographer or a vivacious 7-year-old, creating a dance is an interesting proposition. Where do you start? How quickly do you get real with it, when do you bust that move, cut that rug? The simple answer is that there isn't a right or wrong one. That voice is there telling you, just you, what feels right and all you have to do is listen to it.
After the hour is up, you don't know what to think. It's one of those occasions in which time just makes sense, you know? You have no idea how the minutes could have passed so quickly, but you also know that the music must have played for days. You created a dance. It wasn't all that much, nothing that anyone out of the room would ever appreciate, but that was the whole point. Leaving the real world behind for the fools and the thinkers and stepping into the realm of the music.
I for one had never encountered a festival workshop before. I wasn't even entirely aware they existed. Now, not to steal a phrase from a cable-subscribed, nightmare-inducing alternate self from a DirecTV ad, but don't be like this me. Do yourself a favor next time your favorite festival rolls into town and try to give one of these little events, these bite-sized snacks if you will, a chance to grow. You can call me crazy, or at least correctly assume I had one too many tacos before I stepped in the room, but for something that seems so small, the outcomes can feel quite special.
So, in closing, let's give one big "Way to go!" to Thin Line, to dancing, to TWU, to workshops, to Denton and, most of all, to the inventor of the corn tortilla!